Energy is essential for the effective functioning of human society; however, its production and use come with environmental costs. Energy plays a critical role in the development process, as a domestic necessity but also as a factor in production. The cost of energy directly affects prices of other goods and services, and the competitiveness of enterprises. The opportunities and challenges associated with this sector are discussed more fully in Chapter 2: Atmosphere. This section presents scenarios which focus on the different policy options in the energy sector and how this may impact on goals and the available resources.

The opportunities for creating a sustainable energy supply are closely related to investment in renewable energy, the development of appropriate energy technology, and the strengthening of existing energy resource monitoring programmes. The search for abundant and cheap energy could focus on rationalizing the territorial distribution of existing but unevenly allocated energy resources. Goals in the energy sector include:

  • Developing cleaner energy sources;
  • Improving access to reliable and affordable commercial energy supply;
  • Improving the reliability, as well as lowering the cost, of energy supply to productive activities; and
  • Reversing environmental degradation that is associated with the use of unclean fuels.

The main threat to achieving these goals is climate change and variability, and its impact on environment, health, food security and human settlements.